Settling into a new country and an entirely different routine can be challenging, making keeping fit and healthy - mentally and physically – more difficult than usual.
However, you can do a few things to make this transition more manageable and help you relax while keeping as healthy as possible.
Take Your Time to Settle In
You have taken a giant leap and moved somewhere new, away from everything that you knew and had become second nature to you. So, it is expected that you will feel like a fish out of water at times.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is not an easy task, so make sure you embrace the new and unexpected and allow yourself time to adjust.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself, having everything in your life sorted in a matter of days after your move. It is essential for your state of mind and sanity. You are human, and you need some time and space to take up a new routine.
You will find that months and even years down the line, you will be discovering something new that throws you off your feet for a bit. Do not fret; take a deep breath and enjoy the experience.
Keeping Fit for Free
When you move to a new country, you may not be familiar with the neighborhood, the transportation system, and the culture, or you may not have the extra funds for a premium gym membership.
One of the best ways to keep fit and get to know your new home is to go walking. Although buses and taxis are grand to see places further away, exploring areas within your home's vicinity will be essential to get your bearings and know your way around town. You might even discover hidden gems in the form of quaint cafes or a local bakkal (market) that sells a few treats that remind you of home.
When walking does not cut it, and you crave some greenery, going hiking or trekking will be a great option to keep your heart rate up. Not only will you work up a good sweat, but you will also get to empty your mind from thoughts while appreciating the beauty of the great outdoors.
If you want to venture out further, the next step up will be to get a bike to save on public transport costs without feeling guilty about not getting enough exercise for the day.
Expand Your Social Circle
Speaking of keeping fit, being social will also help keep you sane and stave off feelings of loneliness.
One of the best ways to be more involved with the expat community and get some exercise is to join expat-organized events, workshops, and classes. The best place to learn what is going on around town is to join expat Facebook groups, follow local Instagram accounts or sign up for newsletters of expat websites.
Your local bakkal or muhtar may also have a board up where people pin flyers about upcoming events, so that is always worth checking out.
If you want to get to know more about the local culture, you should follow the social media accounts of your local municipality and join any festivals or workshops that speak to your fancy.
Establish and Maintain an Exercise Routine
Whether you choose to enroll in a local gym, go swimming, cycling, or hiking, and even designating Youtube as your fitness trainer, try to establish an exercise routine, even if you do not feel like it.
Suppose you usually are not very active, or you are very adventurous. In that case, it may be better to stick to your old routine before slowly increasing the frequency or intensity of your workouts.
Also, do not go overboard and do not overexert yourself in hopes that you will create a brand new "you." Take it easy, make sure to warm up and stretch, and remember that regular but shorter periods of exercise may be better for you than one long session only once or twice a week.
And when you feel that you cannot keep up with or maintain your new regimen, take some time off. But also remind yourself of how good exercise-induced dopamine feels after a good workout.
Get a Good Health Insurance Policy
You are bound to come across a health issue sometime during your life as an expat, and when you do, you will be thankful that you have a good health insurance policy.
Whether you're not eligible for the Turkish state healthcare or have a chronic disease that means frequent check-ups or visits to the doctors, you should seek a comprehensive policy that will be one less item on your list of things to worry about as a new expat.
Want to know more about healthcare in Turkey, head here.
Practice Healthy Eating (and Drinking)
It is hard to maintain a healthy weight when surrounded by so much good food; we know especially if that food is a world-renowned cuisine, with regional delicacies and fresh ingredients.
Although Turkish cuisine is healthy for the most part (at least the Mediterranean part is), you will soon discover that all the lahmacun, pide, mantı, künefe, and baklava have the potential to double your waistline if you are not careful. Of course, you have the right to indulge yourself in a new culture of food without feeling guilty, especially in your first few months, but for the sake of health, try to balance it with being active and limit the carb- or fat-heavy goodness to a few times a month.
On that note, drinking can also have a significant impact on your health and weight. When you are an expat, one of the best places to socialize are bars and parties, and drinking is a way of life. So, now and then, you might want to pull back a bit or limit it to a few glasses rather than a whole bottle.
Get Plenty of Sleep
When you are in the social butterfly phase of being an expat and loving life, it is easy to go to every event out of the fear of missing out. But everyone needs a good night's sleep to continue to be able to function and enjoy life.
There will be days when you will barely get 5 hours of sleep, but try to rest and get 7-8 hours every night for your health.